Famous Grave of the Fireflies “Sakuma Drop” Candy Maker Goes Out of Business

grave of the fireflies setsuko sakuma drop feature image
© Studio Ghibli/Toho

Tokyo-based company Sakumaseika — the manufacturer of the Sakuma Drop hard candies featured in Isao Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies — is going out of business and will stop producing its iconic candy in January 2023. The company cites rising production costs, labor shortages, and drops in sales as reasons for its bankruptcy. 

The Sakuma Drop candy products are made from real fruit juices, containing eight flavors like grape, apple, lemon, strawberry, pineapple, Japanese peppermint, chocolate, and orange. It is usually stored in an iconic red tin, which featured Setsuko Yokokawa from Grave of the Fireflies on one of its designs. The tins are also collector’s items in some circles. 

sakuma drop red tin setsuko design
© Studio Ghibli/Toho

Established by confectioner Sojiro Sakuma in 1908 during Japan’s Meiji period, Sakumaseika produced the candy throughout the air raids of World War II. The company has said it hadn’t raised the price of its product because they don’t want to pass down surging production costs to the customers. It employs over 100 workers, whose job securities remain uncertain at this time. 

Studio Ghibli featured the candy prominently in Grave of the Fireflies, where an orphaned girl carries the product’s red tin around with her big brother. It is one of the siblings’ few remaining possessions after their home is destroyed. It is used by the brother as storage for his sister’s ashes when she passes away at the end of the film. 

grave of the fireflies sakuma drop seita and setsuko
© Studio Ghibli/Toho

Rival manufacturer Sakuma Confectionery Co, which was founded when its management team parted ways with Sakumaseika after the war, has announced that it will continue to produce and release a similar product called Sakuma Drops. Instead of a red tin, the confusingly named product is stored in a green tin.  

Many fans of the Sakuma Drop candy paid their respects on social media after hearing news of its discontinuation. 

Despite the discontinuation of Sakuma Drops, the Grave of the Fireflies red tin is still available to be purchased in the U.S., France, and the United Kingdom. 


Source: Reuters

William Moo is a freelance writer who has previously written for OTAQUEST and MANGA.TOKYO. He enjoys watching lots of anime every season and reading from time to time. You can follow him on Twitter @thewriterSITB.
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